A widower’s attempt at mending his Ralph Lauren shirt.

IMG_0388Ralph Lauren shirt

Gerard’s shirt.

The above photo is of a shirt that I had re-arranged to fit over Helvi’s arm after she broke it on the 26th of June, 2019. I remember it well. It was a sunny day and I went bowling, but unbeknown to me and about an hour before I was due back home, Helvi while taking Milo for a walk, stumbled over a raised concrete footpath, and broke both her arms. What followed has already been exhaustively described on previous posts and I am still too mangled and upset to go back to it.

Helvi’s right arm was in plaster and had a steel or alloy plate inserted to help it heal. Her other arm had wires inserted to again help heal the arm. It did mean that her clothes would be hard to fit over her arms, especially her right arm. What amazed us was that we noticed many women ( and men) with enormous arms that were always clothed. The arms were tightly wrapped, but even so. Those arms were encased in material, shirts jumpers. You name it. How did those huge arms get into the garments?

So, why did I have such difficulty fitting clothes over Helvi’s plaster encaged, but reasonably slim arms, especially her right arm? One problem was that her arms were very painful andย  the slightest force would result Helvi suffering pain, and she wasn’t one to complain easily! Her face would let me know! It was pitiful.

I did not really have the time to ponder about how large people managed to get dressed and instead investigated on overcoming my problem of dressing Helvi in clothes that would fit easily without causing too much pain while dressing her. I had shirts that were fairly wide-armed, men’s’ shirts generally are fitted loosely. I made them even easier to fit by cutting the right arms open to where the sleeve met the shoulder. This gave Helvi’s right arm the freedom to move about without any pressure on the shards of her broken bones. Of course the cuff would be left uncut so that the sleeve could still be buttoned up.

Now that all this has moved into the past, and Helvi gone since 29th Oct, it occurred to me to mend the shirts that were cut. I looked into Helvi’s mending basket and amongst all the bobbins of cotton, the needless, the boxes of saved buttons , her zipped-up container of small scissors, knitting needles and all other bits of haberdashery, I found a tape that one can actually iron on to mend tears in clothing items. I remember having used this form of tape before. It needs to be ironed on without actually ironing. You put the iron on ‘wool’ temperature and press it down on this magic tape. It is a type of clear material that adheres to the material without any visual changes. A bit of a true miracle repair tool really.

I went about first threading a needle with black cotton and stitching the long tear in my shirt sleeve as good as possible. I remember Helvi getting the cotton thread through the eye of a needle fairly quickly. I took a lot longer. After the threading I filled the sleeve with some padding to expose the stitched up sleeve and tear.ย  I took out the iron put it on ‘wool’ and ironed on the tape of mending material. Here is the shirt now. All as good as possible, The mend is on the inside so hardly noticeable.

IMG_0396 the iron mending

Here is the final result. Of course I could have thrown all the shirts out but I believe in not polluting the world. It is also a very good and comfortable shirt. I am so proud of my achievement.

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26 Responses to “A widower’s attempt at mending his Ralph Lauren shirt.”

  1. auntyuta Says:

    Good on you, Gerard. You did very well! We should all learn not to discard things so easily.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yvonne Says:

    Well done, you. You used your noggin to save that shirt.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. catterel Says:

    I’m full of admiration for you, Gerard! Well done!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Andrew Says:

    Thatโ€™s a fine achievement Gerard. Helvi will be smiling at that. A proper restoration after its sacrifice in the best possible cause.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, it would please Helvi no end. I remember she once caught ne mending, darning a sock. She could hardly believe her eyes. I did learn to knit as a school boy. All children should learn those kind of skills, they should not be seen as the domain for females.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Curt Mekemson Says:

    You should be proud, Gerard. I occasionally sew on a button, but that is the extent of my sewing abilities. Old, still usable clothes go to charity. Old, non usable clothes become rags for use around the house like washing and waxing cars, etc. โ€“Curt

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, that shirt in the photo is my favourite shirt. It is very light and wears beautifully. There are still a few shirts to mend and tape up. Very clever invention, Curt.
      In our household, anything threadbare would be turned into a cloth and stored in a box for ‘eventual’ future use.
      I was told that vets are keen to receive rags too.


  6. petspeopleandlife Says:

    Well now, you have become a first class saver and mender. I admire your skills since I have never tried to mend anything. I just sew up the holes in m favorite every day shirts. Of course that doesn’t look so good so now I have been inspired to go to the sewing store to find some iron on tape.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, the iron on tape is a blessing. We have a huge haberdashery store nearby. I get lost in there. It caters for many hobbies that include sewing skills, crocheting, lace making, weaving and much more. In Holland we had a knitting machine and I turned out a few outfits for our children. Terrific machine. Now there electric knitting machines in which you feed a computer programme and after the press of a button, out comes the garment. Of course you have to feed the machine enough wool.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. doesitevenmatter3 Says:

    I am proud of you, too, Gerard! Excellent job!
    I’m sure Helvi is most proud of you! ๐Ÿ™‚
    ‘Tis a very nice shirt, so I’m so glad you could restore it to it’s beauty and be able to wear it again!
    HUGS!!! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Ingrid lama Says:

    Yes well done for using the shirt again ! What a wonderful story Gerard .. our memories no matter how painful or joyful are what we remember in life , I hope 2020 bring you new beautiful memories with family and friends xx

    Liked by 1 person

  9. shoreacres Says:

    You’ve inspired me, Gerard. I have a stack of shirts that don’t precisely need mending, but they have buttons that need to be sewn on. The next rainy day — or one of these evenings — I’ll do that. That wonderful iron-on mending tape really is genius. I often use the iron-on patches for jeans, too. Put them inside the leg, press them on, and you’re ready for another encounter with barbed wire, or rose thorns, or whatever!

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, Linda, those patches are very handy. Of course one has to have an iron. Year ago I cooked two pieces of salmon on an iron in a motel. I had the choice of using the electric toaster but the fillets were to thick and it would not have been hygienic either.
      I kept the iron upside down and it worked but only one piece at the time.
      Yes, barbed wire is what we tried to avoid on our farm and through the years replaced them with plain wire. Sometimes kangaroos did not quite make it and got trapped waiting to get released. A wild kangaroo is not easy to handle. They have very strong hind legs.


  10. rangewriter Says:

    Well done, Gerard. More people need to mend rather than toss. And I know what you mean about the dratted needle. I just had to thread a needle to sew on a button today. Unbelievable how many takes it took, even with my readers on.


  11. freefall852 Says:

    I’ve waited till the end of the comments for someone to enlighten me…no-one has…so I will ask..: Why couldn’t Ralph fix his own shirt himself?


  12. Forestwood Says:

    Excellent work mending the shirt. So many don’t think to try this.


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